The Three Prevailing Millennium Views in Revelation

 

Revelation chapter twenty is about the three main views of the Millennium: Post-millennium/Postmillennial, Pre-millennium/Premillennial, and Am-millennium/Amillennial (see background article) that intersect into the four views. Chapters twenty-one and twenty-two deal with the literal versus the non-literal interpretation of Scripture. Each of the four views takes various positions within each of these millennia views.  

This passage starts the millennial viewpoints. Most theologians in Church history from the early church fathers such as Augustine, and including the Reformers Calvin and Luther, saw this passage as metaphoric; “Amillennial” as in not a literal but symbolic interpretation. This is mainly because it is what the texts stated by the usage of the Jewish metaphoric words and genre. There have been some that have seen a future “premillennial” viewpoint such as Irenaeus, Justin Martyer, and most famous, Isaac Newton (there debate is whether this happens before or after Christ’s return; most see after). But, these people were not well schooled in biblical languages or well read in this subject. There is another group who are versed in biblical languages and well educated that takes a “postmillennial” view and include Jonathan Edwards, George Whitfield, and Charles Finney (he was not well educated, not that education is that important, but gives one more tools to examine and more information to see what God has to say) that a millennial Kingdom would precede Jesus’ second coming. Hence, there was a lot of controversy in the mid-twentieth century when most people who wrote on this subject no longer looked to genres, historical background, original languages, or were just biblically illiterate, so all kinds of theories exist through to today. One example is not realizing that so much of this is dependent on the Old Testament metaphors used in places such as in Jeremiah. The main problem is that Christians divide over this, regarding their position as the solely correct and imminent one when Christ Himself told us in Matthew 24 what will happen and not to theorize or fret over it, just be prepared. That means to grow in faith in Him, not spend our energies in argumentation. Ironically, people who engage in vicious debate and fight over this only serve Satan and not Christ!  

The word millennium is a combination of two Latin words, mille, meaning a “thousand,” and annus, meaning a “year”. The debate is over if this is to be taken literally as 1,000 definite years, or interpreted metaphorically (as the language suggests), meaning a long, indeterminate period of time. There are three main popular views to this subject:   

Amillennialism: This millennium portrays the present reign of Christ, God’s kingdom, which will be followed by Christ’s second coming. The souls of the departed are with Christ in heaven. Most in this camp believe that after Christ’s final judgment, the new earth will be formed—His eternal, perfect kingdom. This is the most popular view from the Early Church Fathers, the Reformers, and most denominations today. They believe that Christ through His work, death, and resurrection defeated Satan and he is restricted, and bound in power and scope to allow the spread of the Gospel and the building of the Church. This view sees us now in the millennium. Many sensationalists today say this view is heresy, but it is not; it is within the scope of biblical theology as clearly defined by Scripture. Such sensationalists rarely read the Bible for what it says or in its context! This is also not an essential matter (Matt. 12:9; John 12:31; Col. 2:15; Rev. 17:8; 19:9)!

Premillennialism: We are living in a partial aspect of God’s kingdom which in time will become the great climax of Christ’s return when He will start His Kingdom full on, which says that the Second Coming of our Lord will take place before the millennium. Then, Jesus will literally reign on earth for a thousand years that will merge into the eternal kingdom, in an age of peace and righteousness on a new earth. 

Postmillennialism: This world will eventually all or mostly be converted to Christianity; then and only then will the millennium of a new earth filled with peace and prosperity begin. This view has Christ returning after the millennium, and we Christians in charge; it is up to us to engage this before His second coming. Then, Christ presides over the final judgment and eternity.

Just like the four views, Preterist, Futurist, Idealist and Historicist, all these views are also mostly read into the text. There is truth and error in each one, since Scripture does not teach any of them fully (see background article for more information). 

 

Exegetical look into Revelation 20:4-6

 

  • ·Souls. Refers to those who have been martyred because they remained faithful to Christ or that these people are the most noble and worthy to receive reward. This does not mean other faithful Christians and saints are excluded or there is a second class or a second resurrection for the others. It also signifies suffering, being wronged, and persecution, but the application is that they remained true to the faith, regardless of circumstances. In context, this image indicates that the martyrs are like sacrifices, just as Christ was when he represented the Passover Lamb, innocent and undeserving, whose blood was shed. In Christ’s case, it was for our redemption; in the martyr’s case, it was seemingly in vain, but in reality, it glorified God (Phil. 2:6-11; Rev. 6: 9-10).
  • Beheaded. Rome would behead with a big ax its citizens who were deemed as criminals, as it was considered quick and painless as compared to being crucified. Of course, they were usually beaten first as Paul was on many occasions.
  • Rest of the dead. May refer to those who are “spiritually dead,” or the wicked, and not necessarily dead bodies.
  • The first resurrection. This perhaps refers to our “rapture” to meet Christ, meaning we are taken bodily to meet Him when He returns. The various theories of the rapture and end-times usually are not based on Scripture. “Rapture,” which is not even a biblical word, comes from the Latin to “meet in the air,” and simply means (from Biblical exegesis) to meet with Christ. It is not necessarily even up in the air, as that is a metaphor to meet as two warring parties would in the middle of a battlefield to discuss terms. The context and language suggests two resurrections, but this may refer more to a contrast between our bodily death and the second death, which is spiritual and eternal. Our physical is temporary; our soul is primarily more important. The theme of resurrection is our hope for today, because we are with and in Christ, our “being” is made for eternity. What matters most to God is our trust and faithfulness in Him, for which we are rewarded. This is more fully explored by Paul in Philippians, chapter 3 (Is. 65:20; Dan. 7:14-18; Amos 5:18; Matt. 19:28-30; 25:14-30; John 5:24-29; 1 Cor. 15:51-57; 2 Cor. 5:8; Phil. 1:23; 3; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; 5:1-3; Rev. 6:9-10).
  • Second death. Refers to Hell and eternal damnation that as Christians we do not need to fear.

 ·Priests. In the Old Testament, this meant that all God’s people were holy to Him. Under law, there were specific roles in the priesthood that people were called and ordained to fill. Priests were to be bridges from God to man. Now, through Christ, we have direct, intimate access to Him, and in the future, each of us will reign with Him. Each of us is a royal priest as a representative of Christ (doctrine of the priesthood of all believers) on earth, and as ministers, we model His character and thus have no need for a Temple. God’s Kingdom is now; those who say the Temple must be reconstructed before Christ returns do not get this vital point (Ex. 19:1-6; 20:6; Lev. 10:10-11; Isa. 66:20; Matt. 21:43; 28:19-20; Rom. 15:16; 2 Cor. 5:20; Eph. 2:1-10; Heb. 7; 10:19-22; 1 Pet. 2:1-10; Rev. 2:26-27; 3:21; 5:9-10; 20:4-6).

  • Reign with him. This means the reign of the faithful—God’s people—and our responsibility as we serve for and with Him

 

Exegetical look into Revelation 20:1-3

 

  • Abyss/bottomless pit means “very deep” (the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament word for bottomless). Jewish tradition saw this as a literal, subterranean place, used for the imprisonment of evil demons and Satan, who was actually on the earth. Angels were assigned to guard it and were given keys to it. Now, with our better understanding of science and biblical interpretation, most scholars see this as an extra dimension or residence; the exact locale we cannot fathom. John is using this vibrant imagery not necessarily to be a literal place we can go see, but rather to show that hell is real, Satan’s punishment is real, and demons are real. (Gen. 1:2; 7:11; Prov. 8:28; Luke 8:31; Rev. 9:1; 20:1).
  • Seized the dragon. The context shows us it is Satan. Literally meaning “serpent” or “sea monster” such as the leviathan, it symbolizes monstrous evil and Heracles and his battle with the hydra. A dragon is also a description of Satan who is the archenemy of God, a terrifying and destructive beast who seeks the total devastation of God’s people. Satan has been in rebellion against God since even before the fall of Man. He has been judged and will exchange his earthly throne for a bottomless pit, his finality rendering him powerless and bankrupt. This is a reference to the serpent in the Garden of Eden. It is also a description of Satan’s ways and strategies to lead the whole world astray (apocryphal book “Bell and the Dragon;” Gen. 3:1-15; Job 1-2; Psalm 74:13-15; 89:9-10; Is. 27:1; 30:7; 51:9; Ezek. 29:3; Matt. 25:41; Luke 10:18; 11:14-23; John 12:31; Col. 2:15; Rev. 12:3, 7-9; 13:2; 19:20; 20:2).  
  • Bound him refers to one’s power being suppressed or muted. Satan’s power and influence are constrained by God’s will and are under His judgment. The theme of imprisoned demons is seen in 1 Enoch and Tobit where they are evil and waiting trial before God. (Is. 24:21-22; Dan. 12:2; Matt. 27:62-66; 1 Cor. 6:1-3; 1 Tim. 5:21).
  • Reigned with Christ. Most people seem to read in what they think this should say and not what it actually says. Basically, it means we have peace and responsibility when we are in Christ (Matt. 10:33; 1 Cor. 6:2; 2 Tim. 2:12)!
  • Thousand years. A thousand years, or “ten one hundreds,” was a common Jewish and Greek metaphor for an age of peace. Plato used it too. Jewish usage of time is not usually literal; rather, it means ages or periods such as in Genesis 1. The word is Yom, and means a time period, not necessarily a literal day. Many futurists see this as the beginning of a new era, dispensation, or church age called the “millennium,” filled with prosperity and peace. This may be so, but this is not what the text is saying. It is saying that we have peace when we are in Christ! Some saw this as an intermediate state between death and the afterlife of heaven or hell. Also, in Jewish thinking, this was the messianic period or” travail,” from which comes the Amillennial view, as in the age of Christ or Christianity until He returns. The Catholics picked up on this for their theory of purgatory. Purgatory is not a biblical representation, but rather a Jewish cultural view, from which John draws his language to show us the main point of trusting in Christ, He is our “All in All” in and for all situations, that Paul explains in Romans 8 (Psalm 90:4; Is. 65:20; 1 Thess. 2:18; 1 Pet. 5:8).
  • Deceiving the nations. Refers to deception and false prophets that allure people away from logic, clear thinking, relying on God, and trusting in His Truth (Deut. 13:1-3; Matt. 24:24; 2 Thess. 2:9; Rev 13:14; 16:14; 19:20) 

 

Revelation 20:1-6

Introduction  

The Millennium! 

John now sees the angel coming from heaven with the keys to the bottomless pit attached to a heavy chain. Then, he takes control of the dragon, which is Satan, and imprisons him for a thousand years in the pit that he locks up. At this, Satan can no longer influence or deceive people and/or nations until his sentence is up. Afterward, Satan will be released for a short time, and then he will be rendered powerless. John sees thrones, with people sitting on them who have the authority to judge. We will reign as priests, serving Him for a thousand years. John sees those who have been martyred come to life—those who lost their heads and lives because of their faith in and testimony for Christ. They paid the ultimate cost for faith and preaching the Word of God. These people did not compromise their faith, and they did not worship what is false or accept his mark. They stayed loyal to Christ and to Christ alone. Because of their extraordinary faith, they were given new life and allowed to be resurrected first. Death holds no power or authority over those whose faith is in Christ. Those who are His do not need to fear death, for life in Christ is eternal.  

This passage echoes some of the themes of Genesis found in chapters one through three. Is this passage really about a Millennium or any of the three main views of the Millennium? The fact is, when you actually read the text in context, you will see there are far greater issues at stake. The rage of debate of a Millennium view is this: Is this passage literal or figurative? This is the crux of the debates on this passage and the founding of the three main millennial viewpoints. What are usually left out in these debates are the apocalyptic language structure and word meanings from the Old Testament prophets, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, chapters 37-48. Just knowing these two books clears up much of the debate. This passage is about how we can have real peace and contentment when we are in Christ! We also have the responsibility to produce faith and to be loyal. It also describes Satan, who was unable to prevent Christ’s incarnation and redemption, thus seeks to manipulate and destroy His followers. By knowing Satan’s fate, we can have trust in Christ and hope for our future. Satan cannot influence or deceive us outside of God’s will. His reign may be limited now, but at some point in time, He is completely neutered. 

What do you think life would look like in an age of peace or a in a Millennium when we will reign as priests, serving Him for a thousand (indeterminate amount) years? 

What does it take for you to stay loyal to Christ and to Christ alone? What gets in the way of your loyalty? What can you do to be more loyal to Him?

What does Revelation 9: 1-11 mean to us now?

 

            The image here is of the armies of hell that will come in some way, shape, or form, by invading armies, pestilence, or supernatural activities. Their mission is to invoke fear; they seek souls to themselves, souls who do not desire God, that would rather die and spend their eternity in hell with their cohorts in the realm of demons. This is not a pretty picture, but a warning that we must take our lives and our duty to Know Him and make Christ known in our lives seriously. Moreover, in context, it is the warning to take on our duty to run His Church His way, and point others to His Way. 

Do you know how powerful God is? What about in your life? This passage is not just about doom and gloom, it is about getting our priorities straight as is the Joel passage John borrows it from. It is His power and His love to which we bow. The bottom line is, God calls us to repent! Have you? Really, in every aspect of your innermost thoughts and ways? There is nothing our Lord Jesus Christ does not know, nothing that is inaccessible to Him, including the secrets in the recesses of our innermost personal being (1 Sam. 16:7; Job 26:6; Psalm 139:8; Prov. 15:11). Thus, we must allow His conviction and our accountably to others to examine who we are and who we ought to be. If we are in a self-indulgent life-style, with the desire to live and do as we please, we are headed for trouble. We may be Christians, sealed by His grace, but do we serve Him as we “run” our personal lives and His Church? God wants us to “hear this word,” not bow to our self-indulgent mindsets, so we can have our personal aspirations of control in surrender to Him, allowing His Lordship to be manifested in all parts of our lives (Isa. 28:7-8; Am. 4:1). 

Real repentance will entail full, genuine confession, restitution, and the will to turn to Christ, not just as Savior, but also as Lord. 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. Have you undergone a great change, a complete turn, that has changed your heart and mind? Perhaps from being a non-Christian to a Christian? What about gong from being a weak, unfaithful, or worldly Christian to a mature and faithful Christian?
  1. What needs to take place so that you experience deeper results from the acknowledgment of what Christ has done in you? What can you do to make the commitment and resolve to constantly, and with diligence, examine your actions and attitudes and allow the conviction of the Holy Spirit and the good advice and counsel of others make you a better follower of Christ?
  1. What can you and your church do to be better prepared, with attitude and mindset, in regarding God as a God of grace and of judgment? What can be done to better communicate this to your congregation?
  1. Do you truly have a real, heartfelt interest in knowing and serving Christ as Lord? If not, what is in the way? What needs to happen for you to grow in this much needed area in your life?

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

 

The Four Main Views of Revelation 9: 1-11

 

The Preterist view: They see this passage as the days of the Roman conquest and destruction of Jerusalem and then the resulting spread of death and disease as the outcome. The “star” represents the leaders of this and the unbelief and apostasy of the Jews that caused it. “Five months” represents the May to September siege of Jerusalem. The “locusts” are seen as demons being let loose or being influencers of the siege, and the kink is Satan himself as the influencer. “Seek death” is seen as the application of Luke 23:27-30 and the desire to die during the Roman’s heinous activities. Women’s “long hair” is seen as transvestitism, brothels, or the women being violated. And, Apollyon is seen as the Roman Emperor who gave charge to the siege. 

The Futurist view: They see this passage as a literal and supernatural plague by demons that God allows Satan to set loose just before Christ’s Second Coming. The “star” represents the “third trumpet” of Revelation 8:10. Most in this camp say this is a future Pope, and his corruption of adding apostasy to the Church. Others see this as the rise of cult groups since the 1900s, and still others see it as a comet or as Satan himself. The “Abyss” is seen as hell or another house for demons. The “locusts” represent demons or people who are possessed by them, and their effects on people during the tribulation. “Seek death” is seen as people unable to exercise their will because of demonic activity. Others see this as the effects of a foreign invasion; some have said it is helicopters, and “torment” is nerve gas. In the 80s, it was seen as Russia; now it is terrorists. What will it be next? (My money is on poodles!) The “deceptions” of the locusts are taken literally, as many believe they are helicopters or some military machine. Very probable perhaps; however this is not that the text tells us. 

The Idealist view: They see this passage as God’s judgment by the effects of nature that are distressing and relentless in damage, while we are powerless to stop it. Some see this as the internal decay of Rome that led to its downfall, or the decay of correct doctrine. The “star” represents Satan and the “locusts” represent demonic influences on the world and the Church. The “smoke” is the influence of evil clouding people’s minds, causing them to forsake righteousness. The “torment” is the loss of joy and peace as a result.  “Seek death” is seen as an extra punishment or more intense torment, as there is no relief. 

The Historicist view: They see this passage as the Islamic attacks of the seventh and eighth centuries, which came like plagues and locusts, killing and destroying countless people at their pleasure. The “star” represents a symbol for a prince who has been corrupted by Muslims, or is Mohammed, or perhaps Boniface, the third Bishop of Rome who deceived the Church and caused widespread spiritual damage. The “locusts” represent the Saracens led by Mohammed who are the now Muslim Arab’s attack against Eastern Rome and its consequential terrors from 612 to 763 A.D. The Arabs came like locusts and killed like a plague. Mohammed gave the command not to tear down fruit producing trees, good crops, or to destroy goods his people could use, while other invaders ordered the “slash and burn” of it all. Those who do not have “the seal” are the corrupt church officials who either helped the invaders or sympathized with them. “Five months” represents the time of Mohammed and his “Mohammedan” reign, which was 150 years that amounts to ten times 5 months. The Catholics see the “star” as Martin Luther and the “locusts” as the Reformation. The “crowns” are seen as Islamic turbans and “long hair” as the hair of the Muslim invaders similar to that of modern Sikhs. “Breastplates of iron” is seen as the armor of the invaders, and the “stings of the tails” is seen as their fighting style of slashing rearward.

 

Exegetical look into Revelation 9: 7-11

 

This is not just about God’s judgment, but also another picture of His grace, as, again, most (two-thirds) are spared. Do not feel sorry for these people who are being tortured, for they are absolutely evil. These people would rather commit suicide and spend eternity in Hell rather than repent. They desperately want to continue their sins of immorality, thievery, murder, occult practices, and debauchery rather than seek what is good and uplifting.

  • Horses prepared for battle. Refers to invasions; many horses, from a distance, look like a plague of locusts (Jer. 51:14-27; Joel 2:4).
  • Crowns of gold. Refers to the military exploits and accomplishments which we call “medals” today.
  • Human faces. Refers to nightmares and the heinous images on ancient Mediterranean zodiacs. This may also refer to their cleverness and cunning. We may expect force while they use tricks to deceive people.
  • Women’s hair. Refers to the long hair that, in these times, the Barbarians and the Parthian invaders had. This may also refer to the long antennae of a locust. What is evil and destructive can also be appealing to some. The warning here is to be careful what you wish for.
  • Lions’ teeth. Refers to the ferocity, brutality, and merciless nature of a lion, which would give emphasis to the destructive nature of these events (Joel 1:6).
  • Breastplates of iron. This was the armor of a Roman solder, a coat of “mail” that was made of pieces of metal braided over one another on top of leather that protected their torso. Perhaps, it refers to the demonic or supernatural power they have and that from a human perspective, they are unstoppable (unless people repent). It is interesting to note that many kinds of locusts have an exoskeleton resembling scaled armor.
  • Thundering of many horsesnoise of the chariots. Refers to the utter fear and intensity of the torment, as the family’s and clan’s way of life is destroyed when an invading army or locusts come; or, at the very least, is never the same again (Jer. 8:16; Joel 2:5).
  • Tails and stings like scorpions. The scorpion’s weapon is in its tail; in ancient terms, this meant “archers” who shoot arrows that people greatly feared and that were unstoppable. The Parthian archers wiped out many legions of Roman solders.
  • Abaddon/Apollyon means “destruction” and referred to their dwelling at the lowest depths of the earth where the territory of the dead lay. This is also the Greek root for the god Apollo, whose representation is a locust. This is the name given to the king of the locust’s plague, represented by this angel. It means “Destroyer” and is typically given as a name and description of Satan. It is his role to oversee destruction, yet he and his cohorts are limited to what they can do. This may refer to Satan himself or one of his lieutenants. This was also one of the code words used for the emperor, Nero, and then again for the emperor Domitian by the Early Church. Most of the various views see this as Satan (Ex. 12:12; Num. 33:4; Job 26:6; 28:22; 31:12; 28:22; 31:12; Psalm 88:11; Prov. 15:11; 26:6; 27:20; Rev. 2:18).